Dons legend John McMaster today revealed the Gothenburg Greats were so confident of beating the Old Firm in Glasgow they were talking about spending their win bonuses before they even left Pittodrie Street.
For the team that conquered Europe, code for the win bonus was “chocolate biscuits”.
Secure a victory and the bonus and there were no plain digestives that week. It was a code that had boss Sir Alex Ferguson stumped, but was symptomatic of an unshakable winning mentality and belief instilled by the great manager.
McMaster reckons that same belief should be adopted by Derek McInnes’ Reds this season as a bid for a first league title since 1985 is very much alive.
McMaster said: “We used to go down to Glasgow on a Friday night when we were playing Rangers or Celtic.
“Within five minutes of sitting down on the team bus we were talking about ‘chocolate biscuits’.
“It was ‘right lads, chocolate biscuits this week again’.
“That was our win bonus. We didn’t like Rich Tea or the plain digestives, we wanted KitKats and chocolate biscuits.
“A win meant we would be eating them. That was our win bonus we were talking about.
“Before we had even left Aberdeen we were talking about what we would do with our win bonus for a win against the Old Firm down in Glasgow.
“Myself, big Alex McLeish, Gordon Strachan and Stuart Kennedy always played cards on the bus, just about 50p each.
“We would be talking about chocolate biscuits and Fergie kept asking what we meant by that.
“Then we told him that it was our bonus. Sir Alex enforced that belief that made us talk that way.
“We had that winning mentality before we even played the game in Glasgow the next day.
“That was the way it was throughout the whole team.
“You had to win at everything in that team, even if we were playing table tennis or snooker.
“That was the mentality.”
Now 63, McMaster is utilising that winning philosophy he learnt under Sir Alex and is transposing it into the business environment with motivational talks.
McMaster won four Scottish Cup, three league titles and the European Cup Winner’s Cup and European Super Cup with the Dons during an illustrious career.
He was part of Sir Alex’s side that overcame Celtic to beat them to the league title in 1980.
It was the Dons’ first league glory for 25 years.
McMaster refuses to discount Aberdeen overhauling the Hoops in the race for the Premiership title this season.
Defending champions Celtic hold a five-point lead, and a game in hand, over Aberdeen. For McMaster belief and a winning mentality will be absolutely fundamental to any title bid.
He said: “Derek (McInnes) has got to be judged as a winner with the league championship and I am sure he and Tony (Docherty, assistant) are building for that.
“They have had a good start this season and it is great to see the young players coming through.
“It all depends on the next couple of games.
“February is going to be a huge month, as will the next time Aberdeen face Celtic and Rangers.
“If they come out of that still fighting at the top then it can be possible.
“Aberdeen are stronger now and Sam Cosgrove is scoring goals, which is vital.
“The gap is not as big as what it has been in the last couple of years and Celtic are beatable.
“Celtic are in transition and their armour was knocked at the beginning of the season when there was talk about Brendan Rodgers potentially leaving.
“That was the first time we had seen a wee chink.”
McMaster is the man responsible for giving McInnes his first start in the game as a teenager with Morton when he was assistant manager to Ally McGraw.
“One of Derek’s mates was on YTS forms with us and asked if he could take him along to training one night. He came in and within five minutes you could see he was quality.
“He was so enthusiastic and knowledgeable and pretty soon I could see him picking up things before anyone else.
“Derek was 15 when he came to us and within two years he was a regular of the first team and captain.”